Eastern Front (1941) is a computer game for the Atari 8-bit series created by Chris Crawford in 1981. Recreating the German invasion of Russia during World War II, Eastern Front covers the historical area of operations during the 1941–1942 period. The player commands German units at the corps level and must contend with the computer-controlled Russians, as well as terrain, weather, supplies and even unit morale and fatigue.
Eastern Front was widely lauded in the press. It is considered to be one of the first computer wargames that could compete with paper-and-pencil games in terms of depth of play. According to Crawford, it is the first wargame to feature a smooth-scrolling map.
Crawford, who worked at Atari at the time, developed Eastern Front during his own time for nine months. In a 1987 interview, he estimated he had worked a total of 800 hours on Eastern Front, and that he believed that the game had influenced the industry to simplify user interfaces and prove that there was a market for an "intelligent", non-action game.
Crawford approached Atari about selling the game, but the company felt that wargames would not sell on the 8-bits. Instead he turned to the Atari Program Exchange (APX), a mail-order operation that distributed 3rd party applications. Eastern Front sold over 60,000 copies ($40,000 in royalties to Crawford), becoming as of 1983 APX's best seller. Its manager later said that Eastern Front paid APX's bills, and Crawford stated in a 1987 interview that the game had been the most lucrative for him "by at least a factor of four". He also released the source code to the game through APX, at a higher price, and was surprised that while it sold well, no third-party game used it. The source code is now available on the internet, allowing it to be examined, although only within the Atari Assembler Editor, perhaps in an emulator.
June 15, 2016 Subject:
Read the Instructions; see what you've forgotten
The game literature can be found at: https://archive.org/details/APX20050_Eastern_Front_1941_Manual and I found it beneficial to re-familiarize myself with many of the nuances of the game. I recall playing this game for hours on end back in the day and had wondered if I would ever see it or something similar again. Its like reuniting with an old friend to be able to slaughtered STILL during the Winter Counter-offensive.
January 8, 2015 Subject:
Need a virtual/PC input capability; built on defective emulation
Unfortunately, the emulation carries over severe limitations of previous emulations.
The actual game is based on red and white objects (armies) that interact (fight) with one another. That is, the existence, allegiance, and movement of the objects/armies is critically important to gameplay. In the original, armies never switched sides, never disappeared unless they were defeated by opposing forces/objects. Previous emulations contained bugs that cause objects/armies arbitrarily to disappear, apparently switch sides (from white to red), fail to follow movement instructions. Those bugs are replicated here (this must be a port of the earlier emulations) and they critically affect gameplay, rendering this version a nostalgic curiosity only.
Emulation also is very slow.
Works with usb gamepad. Emulation not useable with keyboard/mouse alone. Need a virtual gamepad accessible by mouse, or to enable arrow keys like joystick. On my system '`' does not even do anything only F1 F2 maybe F4 and backspace have effects on emulation, and they do not generate joystick inputs.
Or, give list of allowed inputs in emulation that user can map to their keyboard.
December 29, 2013 Subject:
I love Eastern Front. Spent many hours mastering it back in the day. This review, however, is about the emulation.
F2 will toggle difficulty (also the semicolon key), and F1 will start the game.
I got the game to select different starting points, 1941, 1942. But could not replicate that for this review.
That's as far as I got.
The game, in emulation, does not recognize the arrow keys. This is killer, because EF is a joystick-driven game. The '`' key will get the cursor to go up, but no combo of keys will make it move in any other direction.